Working off a thesis first posited by Dave Weigel of Slate, Rachel last night explored the idea that the 2012 Republican primary is basically one giant deja-news. The metaphor extends right down to the thrice-divorced elder statesman who can't get any traction (Rudy Giuliani in 2008, Newt Gingrich in 2012).
But here's the thing: If this year is just replay of the last time around, then did the supposed Tea Party revolution amount to anything?
What we've got here is a test. Does the Tea Party exist? Is the Tea Party an actual force in the Republican Party, like everybody has been saying for two and half years now, or aren't they?...Is there an anti-establishment right-wing populist insurgency inside the Republican Party that matters, or was the whole Tea Party story line that we've all been wallowing in for years much ado about nothing? Has absolutely nothing changed between 2008 and 2012?
Last night on the show, Dave told us that he met a voter in New Hampshire who wanted a Tea Party candidate this, someone like South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint, and just didn't have that choice. "He was ready to compromise for someone that could beat Barack Obama," Dave told us. "If you have Mitt Romney in the White House and if you believe as the Tea Party believe that he's pretty malleable, then if he has a very right-wing Congress, he will probably do what they say." In that scenario, the Tea Party not only exists, but wins.